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How effective is Herceptin for Breast & Gastric Cancer?

What is the success rate of Herceptin in breast cancer and gastric cancer?

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm. Last updated on Jun 15, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Herceptin is a targeted therapy group of anticancer drugs that is used specifically for breast cancer and gastric cancer that are HER2 positive. HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor2) is a gene that may be faulty in some people that causes cells to divide and multiply in an uncontrolled way. HER2 clinical studies show how well or effective Herceptin is in adjuvant breast cancer treatment, metastatic breast cancer and metastatic gastric cancer treatments

How effective is Herceptin for Adjuvant Breast Cancer treatment?

Adjuvant breast cancer treatment is an additional therapy to surgery to help reduce chances of the cancer recurring. Using herceptin with adjuvant breast cancer treatment was studied in trials called Studies 1 and 2 to assess its safety and efficacy.

The patients had to have:

  • breast cancer with HER2 overexpression (3+ by IHC) or gene amplification (by FISH), and
  • any patients with cardiac disease were excluded due to known cardiac side effects of Herceptin.

The studies compared one group of patients using the chemotherapy combination doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide followed by paclitaxel to the second group who used the same chemotherapy combinations with the addition of Herceptin.

The results show in the Herceptin with chemotherapy group:

  • 6.78% more patient were still disease free after 2 years in the Herceptin with chemotherapy group (92.90%) compared to chemotherapy group (86.12%)
  • The overall estimated median survival was 7.5% higher in the Herceptin with chemotherapy group (86.9%) compared to chemotherapy group (79.4%)

Trial Results for Adjuvant breast cancer treatment using Herceptin and chemotherapy

Chemotherapy Herceptin + Chemotherapy Percentage Change
% of patients still disease free after 2 years 86.12% 92.90% 6.78%
Overall estimated median survival after 8.3 years 79.40% 86.90% 7.50%

How effective is Herceptin for Metastatic Breast Cancer?

Study 5 is a clinical trial that studied how well Herceptin worked in women with metastatic breast cancer. The women in the trial had metastatic breast cancer with tumors that overexpressed HER2 protein at a level of 2 or 3. The trial compared women taking standard chemotherapy combinations to women taking the same chemotherapy combinations with the addition of Herceptin.

The women on the combination of chemotherapy with the additional Herceptin treatment had:

  • 2.7 months longer median time to disease progression (7.2 months herceptin + chemotherapy, 4.5 month chemotherapy)
  • a higher overall response rate (45 herceptin + chemotherapy compared to 29 for chemotherapy)
  • 2.5 months longer median duration of response (8.3 months herceptin + chemotherapy compared to 5.8 on chemotherapy alone)
  • 4.8 months longer median survival (25.1 months herceptin + chemotherapy compared to 20.3 months for on chemotherapy alone)

Results in First-Line Treatment for Metastatic Breast Cancer (Study 5)

Herceptin + Chemotherapy (n=235) Chemotherapy (n=234)
Median Time to Disease Progression (months) 7.2 4.5
Overall Response Rate 45 29
Median Response Duration (months) 8.3 5.8
Median Survival (months) 25.1 20.3

How effective is Herceptin for Metastatic Gastric Cancer?

Study 7 was a clinical trial that studied how safe and effective Herceptin was at treating metastatic gastric cancer. The patients in the trial had:

  • untreated metastatic gastric cancer or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma
  • patients' cancers were either HER2 overexpressing (IHC 3+) or HER2 gene amplified (FISH+)
  • patients also had to have their cardiac function assessed as adequate due to Herceptin known cardiac side effects.

The trial compared a group being treated with chemotherapy (cisplatin and a fluoropyrimidine) to the Herceptin group which was chemotherapy (cisplatin and a fluoropyrimidine) with additional Herceptin.

The metastatic gastric cancer patients that had additional herceptin with chemotherapy had:

  • 6.2% less deaths (chemotherapy 62.2% compared to chemotherapy with herceptin 56%)

Overall Survival in Metastatic Gastric Cancer Herceptin Trial (Study 7)

Chemotherapy (N=296) Herceptin + Chemotherapy (N=298) Percentage Difference
Number of deaths (%) 184 (62.2%) 167 (56.0%) 6.20%

Bottomline:

Herceptin plus chemotherapy for Adjuvant breast cancer treatment:

  • 6.78% more patients are still disease free in patients that used Herceptin with chemotherapy
  • overall estimated median survival is 7.5% higher in the Herceptin with chemotherapy group

Herceptin plus chemotherapy for Metastatic breast cancer treatment:

  • 2.7 months longer median time to disease progression compared to chemotherapy group
  • 2.5 months longer median duration of response compared to chemotherapy group
  • 4.8 months longer median survival compared to chemotherapy group

Herceptin plus chemotherapy for Metastatic Gastric Cancer treatment:

  • 6.2% less deaths compared to chemotherapy group
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